June 28, 2001

Harbhajan aims to be an all-rounder

Having proved his credentials as a deadly off-spinner, Harbhajan Singh is now concentrating his energies on improving his batting too in order to become a potent all-rounder.

Harbhajan, who earned a record 32-wicket haul in the home Test series against Australia, has made the headlines on the Zimbabwe tour for different reasons.

Despite being the second highest wicket-taker for India in the Test series, it was his gutsy contribution with the bat in both the Tests that was more acknowledged. And Harbhajan, who turns 21 on July 3, himself knows his batting only too well.

"I think my footwork is not very good but my eyesight is very good. I can spot it (the ball) early," he told PTI in an interview in Bulawayo. He said his crucial knock in the Chennai Test against Australia had given him the confidence that he can get some runs too.

"The point is if you bat well in an international series once, you have the confidence to do it again. (After the knock against Australia) I said to myself: 'If you can get it against Australia, you can get it against any team'."

"In the Ranji Trophy too this year, I have made good scores. So whenever I got a chance to go in the middle, I always felt I could contribute 30-40 runs," he said.

"But there are a lot of improvements needed in my batting and I will try to improve more and more as the next few series are going to be only tougher," he said.

The emphasis on batting is in no way at the cost of his bowling and Harbhajan continues to be as impressive as he was during the Australian series though the number of his victims has certainly come down.